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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Now is ‘On Point’ - a centenary celebration and the long-awaited opening-up

Celebrating a centenary is always special, and it could make you dance. You can join such a celebration at the Victoria & Albert Museum, currently hosting the anniversary exhibition ‘On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100’.

We visited there on the very hot and sunny Saturday 17th July, supposedly the last weekend under the social restrictions in England.

The exhibition

Since its foundation in 1920 as the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing in Great Britain, the Royal Academy of Dance, aka RAD, has served a tremendously big role in dance education in England and abroad. Hence, the exhibition isn’t just a historic archive of a British ballet establishment but rather a rich display of ballet culture, giving respect and recognition to the dancers, teachers and designers who have devoted themselves to the art. The sights of actual costumes, drawings, designs, photographs, audio-visual footage don’t serve as a mere collection of materials but as an expression of gratitude to such contributors.

Some featured names include the successive Presidents of RAD, Dame Adeline Genée, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Dame Antoinette Sibley and Dame Darcey Bussell, who were all great ballerinas themselves before dedicating their talents to the dance education of children and adults alike. The RAD is probably best known for its academic syllabus, but their activities and contributions to dance are not restricted to a framework. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Fonteyn’s work on the project ‘ballet exercises for athletes’, an idea that should still benefit current sportspeople too.

The theatrical arts

This temporary exhibition forms a part of the Theatre & Performance collections in the V&A, the area dedicated to the performing arts in general, featuring plays, opera, dance, musicals, puppetry, and so on. There, you can see not only various costumes but also artistic stage designs as well as some ‘backstage’ features. Seeing these collections would remind you of the fact that the theatrical arts are not just about performers. The shows cannot be possible without many different talents - design, lighting, effects, costumes, scripts, stage management, box office... Imagine, we were about to lose all of these, the rich and profound performing arts...

Surviving through the fear of losing the culture, many British theatres have expressed their joy and relief at finally being able to host shows with full audiences, supposedly starting from 19th July. If you’re looking forward to enjoying theatrical experiences again, it is highly recommended to see this exhibition to rediscover what dance and theatre really mean to us.

On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 | V&A Museum

‘On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100’, on now until 1st May 2022


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